05/29/2013 3:48PM

Belmont Park: NYRA keeping close eye on Jacobson

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Trainer David Jacobson has five horses entered for Saturday's New York Showcase Day program, including Saginaw in the Affirmed Success.

ELMONT, N.Y. – With success comes scrutiny, something trainer David Jacobson is finding out first hand these days.

Following a recent hot streak that saw him win eight races with 16 starters (covering 14 races), Jacobson has had his barn placed under 24-hour surveillance and blood tests have been taken on all of his horses stabled at Aqueduct. The surveillance and testing is a joint effort between the New York State Gaming Commission and New York Racing Association.

Jacobson said Wednesday the blood tests were taken over the weekend and there were security guards seen around his barn Wednesday morning.

“At first, you get a little worried, but I’m not concerned in the least,” Jacobson said. “I don’t mind it at all. They’ve been polite.”

Jacobson has basically been winning all spring at Belmont, leading the trainer standings with 21 wins from 75 starters, 10 more wins than Chad Brown.

On May 23, he won four races from five starters, all with horses he was running first off the claim. Two days later, Jacobson won three races from seven starters.

Jacobson does not have any medication violations listed on the New York State Gaming Commission’s database that goes back to 2007. He said the only medication positives he has had recently came at out-of-town tracks “where I had horses in the care of other people, which I don’t do anymore.”

Jacobson had two horses entered on Thursday’s card, one (a main-track only) on Friday, and five horses in three races on Saturday’s New York Showcase Day program, including Saginaw in the $100,000 Affirmed Success Stakes.

Rodriguez on cold streak

A few barns away at Aqueduct, trainer Rudy Rodriguez is in the midst of a slump, having gone winless with his last 21 starters at Belmont.

Since winning Aqueduct’s inner track meet with 41 wins, Rodriguez has won with just 9 of his last 89 starters on the New York Racing Association circuit. That doesn’t count the 3-for-18 record Rudy’s brother Gustavo recorded while Rudy served a 20-day suspension for two medication violations.

Rodriguez is just 6 for 54 at Belmont. His last winner was Wily Elliott in a low-level claiming race May 16. Rodriguez’s only two wins the last two weeks have come at Pimlico, with Sage Valley in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap and Aussi Austin in an allowance race on the same Preakness Day card.

“Everything goes in stages,” Rodriguez said. “We got to regroup a little bit.”

Rodriguez said Sage Valley, who came off a six-month layoff to win the Maryland Sprint, is being considered for the Grade 2, $400,000 True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Rodriguez said Sage Valley, who ended last year with three dominant victories in the fall, missed the winter due to shin problems.

Rodriguez, who in April served a suspension for two Flunixin positives from last year and has two more under investigation, will be represented in three of the seven stakes on Saturday’s New York Showcase Day program.

Among his charges Saturday is Willy Beamin, who won 6 of 10 starts last year for Richard Dutrow Jr., including the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga. Willy Beamin, owned by Jim Riccio Sr., takes on Saginaw in the $100,000 Affirmed Success Stakes, a race in which Rodriguez also will start Fiddlers Afleet.

Alpha targets Suburban

Alpha, the dead-heat winner of the Travers last summer at Saratoga, is being pointed to the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Stakes here July 6, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Wednesday.

Alpha, who wintered in Dubai following his last-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last November, returned to the United States in early April. He has breezed three times at Saratoga, including a half-mile Monday in 49.80 seconds over the synthetic surface at the Greentree training center. His previous two works were on dirt.

McLaughlin initially considered trying Alpha on the turf, but ultimately decided to keep him on dirt for now.

“He’s doing really well. He looks great. We feel like he’ll be competitive in there,” McLaughlin said.

Cluster of Stars resumes training

Cluster of Stars, the undefeated 4-year-old New York-bred filly sprinter, has resumed training after a brief freshening, according to Toby Sheets, an assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen.

Cluster of Stars was given some time off after her win in the Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct on April 13, her fourth win from as many starts over a 13-week span.

“She’s happy with herself,” Sheets said. “We have nothing picked out for her.”

Jockeys pulling double duty

A quartet of jockeys will be pulling double duty Saturday, riding the first half of the afternoon card at Belmont before leaving aboard a private plane to ride the first half of the evening card at Penn National.

Jockeys John Velazquez, Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano, and Luis Saez are all named to ride at least two of the first five races on Saturday’s New York Showcase Day card.

Following the Mike Lee, which goes postward at 3:09 p.m., those riders will head to Republic Airport in Farmingdale to catch a flight that will allow them to ride the stakes at Penn National, including the $500,000 Penn Mile for 3-year-olds on the turf.

◗ Of the 109 horses to receive a published workout on Tuesday at Saratoga, 73 were 2-year-olds. Most, though not all, were trained by Todd Pletcher.